A Question I Was Asked:

What is Being "Dead to Sin"? Can You Give Me a Meaning?

What is being "dead to sin"? Can you give me a meaning? Does anybody completely and totally overcome sin in this life?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, the verses we need to look at are in Romans 6 with just one in Romans 7.

1. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2. By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2).

8. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.(Romans 6:8-11).

Finally, let us look at this, before I give an explanation:

1. Do you not know, brothers and sisters - for I am speaking to those who know the law - that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2. For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. 4. So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. (Romans 7:1-4; NIV throughout).

The Meaning...

Putting these verses together we may now gain a full understanding regarding the meaning of being "dead to sin."

* Firstly, Paul is not saying that it might be better to sin more freely so that even more grace may come our way (apparently some at Rome had suggested this). That part is handled in verses 1-2 of Romans 6.

* Secondly, and very importantly, he points out that believers should now consider themselves as dead to the law because our first 'husband' of the law, and the old covenant, if you will, has now died. This explanation covers the rest of the verses which we are considering here. We were bound to 'him' (the old covenant) while he lived (all this, of course, especially pertinent for the Jews), but on the cross 'he' (that is, the old covenant) died. We are now released from that law in order to marry another, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul concludes this explanation by stating:

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. (Romans 7:4).

So Paul the Apostle states that Christians should now look upon themselves as 'dead' to the law and, correspondingly, 'dead' to sin.

So it is being explained that when Jesus died upon the cross, we - in a very real sense - died with him. The Bible says that you and I become free from the law when 'we' have died. Therefore, because we have died with Christ we have died to the law. What is interesting is that the law reveals our sin. But if the law no longer has power over us, because we died to it with Christ, then we are said to be 'dead to sin' - and there is your explanation. Therefore sin no longer has any power over us to condemn us because the wages (or consequences) of sin, is death (Romans 6:23), but this penalty, or price, was satisfied by Christ when He died upon the cross of Calvary (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Now look at Romans 6 again:

6. knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7. for he who has died is freed from sin. 8. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9. knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:5-11).

Finally, Romans 8:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering... (Romans 8:1-3a).

So this is not actually talking about leading a totally faultless and sinless life (neither, to be frank, is that even possible), it is talking about the penalty for sin having been fully met and fully satisfied in Jesus Christ. Paul is stating the matter forensically, theologically and legally. Today the Christian stands as dead to the law (in it's comprehensive old covenant package), and correspondingly 'dead to sin' - not because we are personally utterly pure and faultless - but because the price for the sins of the true believer is met in Christ. Today we stand under the law of Christ alone, which is why Paul could say, "...though I myself am not under the law." (1 Corinthians 9:20), he meant the former old covenant package of law. For more on 'the law of Christ' see Matthew 5-7; 1 Corinthians 9:19-21; Galatians 6:2.

Robin A. Brace. August 1st, 2016.